By Kevin Williams
I was recently in northern Maine on a business, a small out-of-the-way outpost on the New Brunswick-Maine border. I found myself in a town called Madawaska. A whole string of towns here along US Route 1A along the St John River are primarily French-speaking towns. In Madawaska the population is close to 80 percent French-speaking as a first language. The area is just across from Edmundston, New Brunswick which is heavily French also. The French here are known as "Acadians" and are cousins to the Cajuns who bring so much culture and joy to southern Louisiana.
Acadian cooking comes from a completely different cultural background than Amish cooking. Amish food has largely been shaped by the generation it is in and the region and has been heavily influenced by processed foods. Acadian cooking is more "pure", enjoying a deep historical resonance in the area.
One of the things to try is the traditional Acadian chicken stew. If dumplings are added to it, it is called fricot. Visitors to the area can find the stew on restaurant menus including Dolly's Restaurant where this photo was taken and where I enjoyed some delicious eats! This is a photo of the thick stew, a staple to get through the long brutal winters here, but it is a favorite year-round. Although most families have their own recipe for this with minor variations, this is a popular formulation! I'll be posting more from Acadia in the days ahead!
- 1 chicken, cut up into serving size pieces
- 1-tablespoon flour
- 1-tablespoon oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 12 cups of water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon summer savory
- 5 cups diced potatoes
- In a large pot (French or Dutch oven) add oil and brown the chicken.
- Remove the chicken pieces and brown the onion and flour in the remaining oil for 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, salt, pepper and savory.
- Cook until the chicken is tender (1 to 1-½ hours, depending on the size of the chicken).
- Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes longer.
- Serve immediately.
Sounds good, but what is summer savory?
Carla, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_savory
What is summer savory?
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef
I grew up in Maine and spent a summer in Madawaska. What a long drive from central Maine to the border. All my grandparents were French Canadian and I have eaten this stew all my life.
Maureen, that is God's country, beautiful place,the St. John's Valley!
Sherri (Belanger) Miller
My grandmother and mom made chicken stew but neither my sister or I mastered it and recipe was never written down. They both have now past and I wanted to make chicken stew and teach my girls. I got ployes handled but the stew needs work! My mom grew up in Frenchville so I was hoping someone had the true recipe!!
Dolly's in Frenchville has the best! That whole region of Maine is a culinary treasure with its French-infused recipes.
Mom's side of the family are from that area of Maine. Fort Kent, Eagle Lake, and Madawaska. My Grandmother made this stew every Christmas Eve we all attended midnight mass then home to this stew and the family all gathered for presents . this stew is a cherished memory and is remembered fondly with blood sausages buckwheat pancakes and fried smelt and fiddleheads. True Acadian dishes.
Sounds like some wonderful memories, David...I was lucky enough to get to the St. John's Valley twice over the past decade, hopefully can make it back again soon!